Gophers Celebrate National Signing Day
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — P.J. Fleck came to Minnesota less than a month ago promising to use his seemingly endless reservoir of energy to invigorate a Golden Gophers program rocked by discord surrounding a sexual assault investigation. From the moment he set foot on campus, the 36-year-old who turned perennial loser Western Michigan into a national success story has quickly made an impact in the recruiting game.
Fleck added nine players to the Gophers recruiting haul in his first weekend on the job and worked tirelessly to bring in talent and keep the homegrown players who had committed to Tracy Claeys. The new coaching staff celebrated on Wednesday by ringing a gong every time a signed letter arrived and dropping balloons when the 25-man class was filled out.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class:
Best in class: Blaise Andries, OL, Marshall, Minn. The 6-foot-5, 299-pound tackle was widely considered the best prospect in Minnesota, and he chose to stay in-state even after the coaching staff he committed to was fired. The Gophers have struggled with injuries up front for several years, and Andries gives them a top-shelf road grader to build around.
Best of the rest: Tanner Morgan, QB, Union, Ky. Originally committed to Fleck at Western Michigan and followed him to Minnesota. Morgan is a strong-armed, pro-style QB who turned down an offer from Louisville.
Late addition: Demetrius Douglas, WR, Portland, Ore. The son of former Gophers standout Omar Douglas, Demetrius originally committed to Oregon before deciding to follow in his father's footsteps.
One that got away: Ihmir Smith-Marsette, CB, Newark, N.J. Committed verbally to Minnesota on Sunday, but announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he was headed to rival Iowa.
How they'll fit in: With a new regime in charge of a team that won the Holiday Bowl despite the drama that played out within the program, this recruiting class will likely have several members who can compete for playing time right away. That could include Morgan, who is part of a muddled quarterback group. Three-year starter Mitch Leidner graduated and three other quarterbacks have uncertain futures at the school as the investigation plays out.